JP Walker in town for July snowboarding at Woodward Copper summer camp
COPPER MOUNTAIN — Twenty years ago, if you said professional snowboarder J.P. Walker would visit Copper Mountain in July 2018 to spend a week on snow, few would have believed the statement.
The first detail that is hard to process is the fact that Copper Mountain has a full-length ski/snowboard terrain park, complete with lift service, in the middle of the summer as temperatures approach 80 degrees. Then there’s the fact that Walker, 41, is still in the scene — still a professional snowboarder, still extremely relevant to the sport — after all of these years.
Walker got his start in the mid ’90s and quickly became a household name (in households that revered snowboarding). He was the first to perform many of the tricks that the snowboarders of today strive to attain, such as the coveted frontside doublecork, and many of the backwards-riding switch tricks. He has been featured in dozens of big-budget snowboarding movies and is still shooting movie parts, still riding like the snowboarder who inspired a generation. The ironic part is, within that generation he inspired in the late ’90s and early aughts, a professional career has come and gone for many of those riders, while Walker has managed to stick around.
To what does he attribute the long shelf life? For one, he likes to create a healthy environment around him, not unlike the scene at Copper. To the kids on snow with him, spending a week in a summer-camp type environment, Walker has a word of advice.
“Obviously, in the snowboarding industry, you can get pretty caught up in the party scene, if you want to,” Walker said on Tuesday, July 10, from Copper Mountain. “I really avoided that my whole career, it wasn’t something that was for me. I was more focused on wanting to wake up feeling good to go snowboard the next day … and I think that’s probably one of the main reasons (for the long career).”
‘ALL THOSE TYPICAL THINGS’
Walker also started doing yoga at age 30, and eating as healthy as he could.
“Just all those typical things you hear, but I’ve been doing it consistently my whole career,” he said. “If you’re living a healthier lifestyle, when you get hurt, you really do heal a lot faster. If you hurt your knee and just sit on the couch and … just play video games, have some beer not really taking it too seriously, you’ll probably become fine if you’re a young guy when you come back, but that’s actually going to weigh on you in the long game. And I’m playing the long game out here.”
Youth riders from across the globe are all welcome to participate in Copper’s on-snow summer camp, and it’s a scene that the health-conscious Walker fully approves of.
“This is my favorite spot to come to in the summer,” Walker said. “This is my fourth season at Woodward Copper and I just like it because it gets me back on snow in the middle of the summer, keeps me fresh.”
WEEK SIX OF NINE
The on-snow opportunity at Copper Mountain is under the umbrella of its Woodward training camps, an all-encompassing program designed to help youth skiers and snowboarders ready themselves for winter. The terrain park, known as Pipeline Park, has a several big jumps, boxes, rails, an airbag to jump into and, most importantly, a magic carpet to transport everyone back to the top quickly.
Coaches are on hand to help kids progress their skills, and pros such as Walker are always around to inspire and demonstrate what is possible on the many features in the terrain park.
The summer snow setup is created by strategically managing the snow that accumulates during the winter and spring seasons, especially while snowmaking operations are underway during November and December. Pipeline Park has been around for about 10 years and, by all accounts, it keeps getting better each year as crews at Copper learn how to maintain a summer snow setup. In a new twist for this year, food is brought up to the campers in a mobile barbecue unit, with Copper chefs grilling up lunch for everyone so they don’t need to break up the day and head back down the mountain to eat. The result is more on-snow time for everyone.
The Woodward on-snow camp runs week to week; currently they are in week six of a nine-week season. Copper, with its high elevation, north-facing slopes, was far less impacted than other Colorado resorts by the drought conditions that plagued much of the state last winter, and it’s especially noticeable now as Pipeline Park appears to have enough snow to easily cruise into that ninth week of summer camp.
While Pipeline Park has been reserved for campers and pros, Copper has also managed to open another on-snow terrain park to the general public in recent years, known as the Big Island Park, which is a hike only opportunity at the bottom of the mountain. This year, however, due to new lift construction, Big Island Park was not able to be opened.
Walker is not the only pro out there inspiring the youth this week; he’s joined by the crew he has been filming with for years, known as Videograss, which includes Joe Sexton, Justin Meyer and Scott Stevens. Torstein Horgmo, another legend of the sport who made a name for himself in the competitive realm before switching to a video-focused career, is also up at Copper shooting for his popular new vlog series, Torstein Vlogz.
In the weeks to come, many more professionals from different teams will head up to Pipeline Park to get on snow, keep the rust off and showcase what’s possible.
For more information, visit campwoodward.com.
River Radamus is feeling blue, and he’ll tell you all about it at the U.S. Ski Team fundraiser in Vail on Thursday; Yama Sushi will host the event and a suggested donation of $500 or more gets you in the doors.